DOI: 10.30443/POI2018-0003

Phenomenology, Neurosciences and the Extended Mind

What is the Right Attitude  Towards “Neuromania”?

Maria Chiara Bruttomesso


In this paper, I examine the impact of neurosciences on philosophy. Nowadays, scientific research on the brain tries to answer some unresolved philosophical questions – e.g. about consciousness – and it risks, therefore, to entirely replace philosophy, in and outside academia. In this regard, I argue that neurosciences find inspiration in philosophy, that they are recipients of the philosophical message, and address in their turn some major philosophical issues. First, I examine the extreme sides of the debate, namely “neuromania” – opposed by Legrenzi and Umiltà for its reductionism and excessively simplifying explanations in the public understanding of science – and neurophobia – opposed by Aglioti and Berlucchi for its lack of interdisciplinarity. I then argue that a cooperation between philosophy and neurosciences is fruitful when both experience and scientific discoveries are considered. Therefore, I investigate Valera’s concept of naturalized phenomenology, and Gallagher’s front-loaded phenomenology. The idea is that, if philosophy can benefit from neuroscientific evidences, so can science from philosophy, and especially from phenomenology, which highlights are the first-person perspective, the role of embodiment, and experiential sharing in social cognition. Last, I address the theory of the extended mind, since cognition is not only influenced by the body, but also by artifacts, environment and others’ expressivity. The analysis undertakes to offer a view of humans as complex and interconnected beings, rather than as solipsistic brains. Hence, I claim that the ultimate goal to achieve is a complete explanation of human consciousness, and that a crucial target of philosophy is neuroscience itself.

Keywords: Neurosciences, Philosophy, Phenomenology, Extended Mind


Download PDF

2. P.O.I. Il pubblico e la filosofia - Bruttomesso